Where text meets image. Where the visual intersects the literary. Often posting 1st drafts and editing in (almost) real time.

Category: Visual Art & Poetry

Medieval Gamblers

Medieval Gamblers by Steven McCabe

I listened earlier to Bob Dylan singing ‘As I Went Out One Morning’ and put up a blog post about the revolutionary Tom Paine and the lyrics to the song (on Dylan’s 1968 John Wesley Harding album) and a photo of Bob receiving the 1963 Thomas Paine award (& how he went on a rant against the respectable liberal audience) & so it goes. In the end I decided to simply show this B&W art (Medieval Gamblers) created in Photoshop today via digital collage & possibly using elements of ink drawings. I could feel the atmosphere of the medieval inn, and textures like wood and burlap, and the mood of danger lurking. There seems to also be danger lurking here & now so it’s not so difficult to intuit. As for gambling I’ve never allowed others to gamble with me. At least I’ve tried & so it goes.

As I went out one morning
To breathe the air around Tom Paine’s
I spied the fairest damsel
That ever did walk in chains
I offer’d her my hand
She took me by the arm
I knew that very instant
She meant to do me harm

“Depart from me this moment”
I told her with my voice
Said she, “But I don’t wish to”
Said I, “But you have no choice”
“I beg you, sir,” she pleaded
From the corners of her mouth
“I will secretly accept you
And together we’ll fly south”

Just then Tom Paine, himself
Came running from across the field
Shouting at this lovely girl
And commanding her to yield
And as she was letting go her grip
Up Tom Paine did run,
“I’m sorry, sir,” he said to me
“I’m sorry for what she’s done”

– Bob Dylan, 1968

When the ice melts all at once…

One operates in black & white (without chiaroscuro)

When the ice melts all at once…

One documents an operation of the psyche

When the ice melts all at once…

One experiences the falling apart gather speed

When the ice melts all at once…

One experiences psyche igniting catharsis

Documented previously HOW?

When the ice melts all at once…

Ice laughter shines like silver

delicately brutal

full as the moon

delivering a blanket of shadowy


One believes they have documented catharsis when in fact catharsis is about to rear its head. Puzzling.
Exhibition late 2011
poetry video shown at exhibition

Detail from a painting completed a decade after this exhibition.

Elsewhere, the Poetry of Marina Tsvetaeva

In corridors


a shadow-mansion,

once well-known,


summon an alchemical star.

Elsewhere, the poetry of Marina Tsvetaeva

chanting subterranean architecture of poetry.

The haystack-man

within my obsidian-heart

longs for the once well-known

song of the silver bird.

Elsewhere, the poetry of Marina Tsvetaeva

chanting original colour wheel of poetry.

Oceanic echoes

vibrate between stalactites.

The silver bird chants subterranean poetry


upon an enormous iron wheel.

Elsewhere, the poetry of Marina Tsvetaeva

chanting physiology of poetry.

Nimble obsidian-animals climb

a half-visible clock-tower

buried in night-coloured shadow.

Elsewhere, the poetry of Marina Tsvetaeva

chanting geological formations of poetry.


pulsing hearts moist as roots,

prowl the corridors.

A vase tips

dried flowers scatter across a night-coloured carpet.

The seahorse-ghost of my cubistic, star-like obsidian heart

envelops the buried clock-tower.

Elsewhere, the poetry of Marina Tsvetaeva

chanting vast agriculture of poetry.

Haystack-man nimble as a shadow-animal

swims within buoyant

star-like dimensions,

climbs an enormous staircase

enters an unlocked door.

His feet rise above tar-night shadow

skipping iike a child.

Elsewhere, the poetry of Marina Tsvetaeva

chanting the infinite mansions of poetry.

I wrote a short poem this morning in homage to Marina Tsvetaeva. The poem was spontaneous. A lifetime entered that quicksilver moment. I have revisited the poem and edited.

Wherever you are Marina, I accept your verdict.

Last night I read selections from Marina Tsvetaeva’s Art in the Light of Conscience: Eight Essays on Poetry (translated by Angela Livingstone).

‘Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941) was one of the four great Russian poets of the 20th century, along with Akhmatova, Mandelstam and Pasternak.’ 

‘For me, there are no essays on poetry as unique, as profound, as passionate, as inspiring as these. “Art, a series of answers for which there are no questions,” Tsvetaeva brilliantly asserts, and then goes on to ask questions we didn’t know existed until she offered them to us, and answers to some of poetry’s most enduring mysteries.’

– C.K. Williams 


A rainy day in almost morning

morning in almost winter 

winter in a ruined monument raining 

upon, stained.


I’m young again she’s making tea

with orange rinds and sweet spices

washing her brushes in the sink

I yawn, breathing triskelion-shaped air.


She wonders have you seen her Franz Marc book

I’m sure it will appear like magic.


The oil paintings of Giorgio Morandi on canvas

remind you of winter or rain

somebody tearing a hole in paper begins by folding

tears dampen her cheekbone


inanimate centipedes in rust skitter-slide down the cave wall

triskelion-shaped jewelry ceremonially worn adorning collarbones

slides beneath half-shadow on the bumpy ledge


warmed by the deafening sun aiming into, yes

well-aimed, as eagles soar hunting, 

the solstice passageway,

beneath watery golden rays


the young man touching thumb to index finger

inhales glorious lungfuls of the older air 

unfolding arms and legs within the invisible rays 

of a triskelion sun

the carnyx sounded deep in memory


the young man conceptually dimensional

observes cascading swirls

spinning like the arms of a forest


weird-wind. winding along. line-of-sight. exposed pattern.

disassembled. reassembled.

knotted. unknotted. sacred formula. column of fountains.


o mystical nature o expressive runes o modern art

o animals o mystical bond o nature o modern art

o mystical nature o expressive runes o modern art

o animals o mystical bond o nature o modern art


A blue horse gallops into the hollow

turning round and round

blue shadow envelops blue shadow

foreshadowing the fate of the animals.

I drink tea with orange rinds and sweet spices

I said the Franz Marc book appeared like magic

but my phone disconnected

the carnyx overwhelming the air.


The young man eating bread

younger than darkness

how darkness might have felt

how quickly one is young, then as now 

how quickly one is younger than darkness jauntily

wearing the scarf lightly 

forgetting how darkness felt.


Listen to the arrangements of roughly-cut spirals

made of paper or thin mimeograph metal



framing the passageway he lingers beside within

as the young lightly follow a spiral into the spiral heart 

pulsing before columns aligned as a proposal

a monument to the deafening triskelion.


The young man wearing a scarf

replaces the ink ribbon in his typewriter

determining pathos comparative to bathos

bathos comparative to pathos

I look up the meaning of both words

peer between sheer curtains

patterned with triskelions falling like snowflakes


outside my window frosted with feathery ships

lightning strikes in a series of strikes

the snowman falls like a banished patriarch turned to salt

or a birchbark canoe floating in white foam

the children of prophecy barely visible in candlelight

continue in silent procession


I taste clove oil on my fingertip – over the telephone we make a plan

the operator interrupts – I look out the window

somebody sitting on top of the telephone pole raises an Iron Age carnyx

animals listen at the edge of the city

twelve angels in a diagonal pattern 4 4 4 fly overhead in a grid

I said to the operator confirmed

she said have they apprehended you-know-who

I said yet to be determined


The paintings of Giorgio Morandi remind you of pathos or bathos

I said you left the water running in the bath

you looked at me like Bathsheba startled

o mystical nature o expressive runes o modern art

folding the letter written in shy cursive

the small-time & sly dealer, off to incarceration

said goodbye

cautioning you meeting with me.


The train pulls away from the empty station 

embers spark, quieting, burn out on the clay-bed

& carved upon the locomotive’s obsidian gleaming surface

incised triskelions sparkle like stars.

I’m young again she’s making tea

with orange rinds and sweet spices

I said I mean the sink

but my phone disconnected

the carnyx overwhelming the air.

manuscript illumination

The paintings of Giorgio Morandi remind you of bathos or pathos

I said invisible ink is made visible using heat

you looked at me like Bathsheba covering herself

o animals o mystical bond o nature o modern art

folding the letter delivered by courier 

the director of the museum of phenomena

summons you

communicating secretly

only you immediately might save the mystery.


The train pulls away from the empty station 

embers spark, quieting, burn out on the clay-bed

& carved upon the locomotive’s obsidian gleaming surface

incised triskelions sparkle like stars.

I’m young again she’s making tea

with orange rinds and sweet spices

I said plug in the iron to read the words

but my phone disconnected

the carnyx overwhelming the air.

I determine to read

The Power of the Powerless by Vaclav Havel

supposedly soon

But something sooner may appear:

an almanac of magic numbers within a weathered spine

or a mist above the bog appearing out of nowhere

as if in a thought 

or your long-lost triskelion pendent

reminding the telephone operator to

attend night school.


Perhaps The Power of the Powerless is written in the power of iron 

an iron sun lost in the bog

or simply an iron moon.


Something occurred ~ this morning as I yawned

listening to the bird ~ egg and nest 

serenade curvilinear branches ~ of the triskelion tree

overhanging the ancient ~ enchanted landscape


A dozen points converge instantly 

a dozen arrows reach the target

emotions, subjective and objective realities, & art forms converge 

without convergence there is no memory. 

S.McCabe collage manuscript illumination and vintage photograph

Here & now we see & feel the flying grid of twelve angels

blissfully wed to bone-like shapes 

their nature triskelion-like


washing in the wind ~ sounding the carnyx

washing in the river ~ washing in salt

warning of the psychological dislocation of a society without convergence

verily, verily I warn thee.


The messenger drinking water from the canteen

treasures the distance between buried clay hills 

racing the wind he throws down his arms

kneeling to press one ear beside clover blooming

voices darting through viridian-green weeds 

ivy-like spiral at the base of round towers

echo inside the curving walls

spinning like the green & brown arms of a forest.



rising to soften the contours of mounds (blurred)

sustaining the triskelion river-sound (preserved)

dividing above carved log-boats on the river afloat

fishermen cast lightly into the gloaming

the great kerbstone looming

a fountain of clay polishes the worn stone axe

I telephone you.


You are born as promised in the embroidery of magicians

Steven McCabe

down around the roots of hollow reeds

you divine

dig wet sediment bare-handed

dedicate yourself to ancient law

Down around the roots of hollow reeds 

each innocent assigned twelve avenging angels

down around the roots of hollow reeds, the

sediment coughing up stones for shelter .


In the beginning was the word

buried in the manuscript of river-clay

spinning three-sided.


Monday Report

My posting last week (Bring Out the Trees in the Heart) went from jumble to rumble. From first draft to resonance of final draft in real time over two or three days online editing.

I decided to make chicken soup yesterday but found one potato only. Should I walk 20 minutes & save 1.00 on a bag of organic potatoes or 40 minutes & save 1.75 at a small store I like. Instead I went down to the lakeshore with my artist friends Charles and Marc. We walked around in biting wind & driving thin snow discussing, among other things, the artist Cecily Brown.

A young artist this past week told me about the new movie Trial of the Chicago Seven and wondered what I knew about the subject matter. One thing is connected to another. It brought back a flood of connections I shared with him.

I had an old doctors’ bag like this, although black, the summer I was seventeen and headed out for California. Instead I ended up in a traveling carnival, one of the many that no longer exist, working for an artist who had a psychedelic tent show and two other attractions. I met & dialogued with the (late) artist’s daughter on Facebook.

I remembered the doctors’ bag after watching a few clips of the movie Trial of the Chicago Seven on YouTube and instinctively compared now to then.

Mixed-media on cardboard 8.5″ X 11″ 2020

From jumbled mass

In biting wind & driving thin snow


one of the many that no longer exist.

The reason I remembered.



Heroes in a time of heroes

Return Now to the wild.

I juxtaposed an image from The Book of Kells with a photo found online showing friends or neighbours (or actors) eating dinner on TV trays in front of a television ‘set.’

My father told me once our family had the first television ‘set’ on the block. Yet still my parents and the neighbours, in the new subdivision built on chewed-up farmland, socialized on the street, in lawn chairs, late on summer nights beneath the stars (no glare of streetlights yet). Ice cubes, shaken from metal trays cracked open with a handle, floated in iced coffee served in metal drinking glasses. Sometimes my mother would call me to empty the glass ashtray. Glass and metal and dark. They remembered something about then.

Then felt closer to in the beginning.

Originally this post contained an oblique rhyming poem I edited, in real time throughout the day, down to two lines (above). This is writing to go with the images. It’s not a ‘received’ poem.

Violaine my prism-eyed darling

Golden-robed & ink-wash thin

Walk me deep into that winding forest

Bind my heart as it shudders and spins.

True love, true love, I whisper

As eagles on stallions arrive

No need to rescue me fierce-creatures-of-fire 

Violaine heaving inhales – preparing to dive.

Moonlight on dark waters 

Blood surging in golden beehives

The winding forest blown over 

As eagles on stallions arrive.

Violaine your fingers crooked

One silver nail broken in clay

True love, true love, I whisper

Coffee cooling on my TV tray.

In Now rescue me fierce-creatures-of-fire

In Now touch that dial

Heroes in a time of heroes

Return Now to the wild.

Water flowing across me washes

This recalcitrant heart in my bones

Maybe we’ll meet in Heaven though I am a sinner

For another TV dinner.

One Thing Leads to Another

When I created the ‘wordless poem’ Never More Together (120 linocut prints – The Porcupine’s Quill) in 2014 I sometimes needed to answer questions like, ‘How is this a poem?’

So I wrote the poem Meditations on a Wordless Poem. In earlier versions I related it to the silent process of carving in lino and creating non-linear poetry via images. I recall describing how I warmed lino under a hot lamp (during a heat wave!) so it would be easier to carve. In the poem found below I abandoned such descriptions, focusing more on the metaphysical. One thing leads to another.

In 2020 Konrad Skreta and I co-directed a 32:28 poetry/art (animation) video based on this poem. Because of Covid, and disruptions, or so I tell myself, I am just now getting around to submitting the video (titled Ode to a Wordless Poem) to festivals.

I watched it again today. Konrad embellished my poetry and images (text-art & visual poetry) by composing ever-shifting & evocative geometric and organic designs. & Within a landscape of psyche, perception and shadow the music too, as well as Konrad’s soundscape, is hypnotic. One thing leads to another.

Meditations on a Wordless Poem

The poem is an image & the image is a poem

Poem is an image passing through the body.

Image contains the rhythmic incantation of voice manipulating shapes

And visual balance –

Image passes into and through the body, embracing rhythmic incantations.

The alchemy of poetry transfigures a blank page into a sequence

Of comprehension –

A sequence of psychic incantation configures the blank page.

The process of transfiguring dross and creating gold

Is recorded two-dimensionally –

A sequence of shapes and visual balance enter your body as

Two-dimensional alchemy.

Symbols meet texture in a relationship spanning theory and time.

Theory and time, in place of words, pass through your body.

Epic poetry resembles line and movement

An ancient voice extends invisible realities into song

Songs of prehistory rush forward, intersecting with our surveillance state.

A visual poem is like a city

As the lights go off, a new sound emerges of all that has gone before

Missing words, animals, plants and civilizations are replaced

Epic poetry rushes forward containing new information.

Poetry, pulsing, aims within a sequence of images

Invisible line responds, summoning persona, questing,

Transmitting erotic signals

Light hollows any false reflection

New information transmits erotic signals

The lights in a city fade

Street by street.

As the image is read the pulse of the work transfigures

Surrealism speaks of fragrance and desire

Alchemy embodies fragrance

The alchemical poem juxtaposes human need and the impossible

Human desire interfaces with the surveillance state

The white of the page recorded two-dimensionally

The fragrance of light a dreaming of desire.

Subconscious language is dream entwining both image and word within

Phenomena as natural as the elements.

Original idea & mind entwine both image and dream

Negative space surrounds the image suggesting a missing fragment of verse.

Ecology and psyche blur in the composition of the wordless poem

Suggesting a missing fragment of verse.

The alchemical juxtaposes with the social.

Missing plants and animals pass through your body, a type of social architecture

A type of shorthand evolves, culturally recognized as poetry.

Stanzas and passages translate visually within atmospheres of memory.

Images float in a psychic space of precognition.

Pictograms evolve in the composition of the wordless poem, as ecology and psyche blur.

The fragrance of light is an image passing through your body &

Recognized culturally, in social architecture, as a poem.

Blink your eyes while you turn the page in torchlight & you realize

You are within early cinema.

I am Goya by Andrei Andreyevich Vosnesensky

I am Goya
of the bare field, by the enemy’s beak gouged
till the craters of my eyes gape
I am grief

I am the tongue
of war, the embers of cities
on the snows of the year 1941
I am hunger

I am the gullet
of a woman hanged whose body like a bell
tolled over a blank square
I am Goya

O grapes of wrath!
I have hurled westward
the ashes of the uninvited guest!
and hammered stars into the unforgetting sky – like nails

I am Goya

Translated by Stanley Kunitz in Antiworlds

Vosnesensky recites I am Goya in Russian accompanied by an image of Goya:


I received a book on the Spanish artist Goya – the biography by Robert Hughes – for Christmas. It’s in the queue. I’m finishing a book on Picasso set in Paris in the early 1900s. He’s working on Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and in competition with Matisse. The author, Miles J. Unger, puts a  fair amount of detail into Picasso’s Spanish youth and trips home.

During the first lockdown I watched many (contemporary) Russian TV (episodic) programs about WW2. Some incorporated archival footage. Vosnesensky, born in Moscow, was 8 or 9 during the Nazi invasion, encirclement, and Battle of Moscow.





The chandeliers hung like earrings above the empty ballroom

A saxophone home to spiders

One bare shoulder on a marble bust.


Prologue by Luciano Iacobelli

To create angels

Is to slice pie and name wedges:

difficult angles of light preserved in heart’s jelly

teenaged crushes trapped diagonally

undirected love felt in the presence of music

infatuation without object

movement in the skull

turtles waking in the mind’s mud

grape cluster the past becomes if artfully remembered

not images

but the script under them

negative space written in spelling errors

negligence that amends the soul

a family of perspectives driving a cumulative death

into the oncoming traffic

whole note in a black triangle on a blue background

disappearances denting the air

weather not noticed by the self absorbed

ignited visions

kissed ashes

barrel in the cellar

parallel fermentation of grape juice and darkness

the strong red taste of every humanizing event

stolen hour at the church dance

when a hard father’s daughter meets the one

who steals her from home

mines and quarries dug with the eyes

dream’s mailman

slipping letters through the slot

the white surrounding this


Luciano Iacobelli is a Toronto poet, publisher and editor. From 2007 to 2019 he was involved with Quattro books as both publisher and editor. He still runs a micropress entitled Lyricalmyrical press, specializing in hand made poetry chapbooks. As an author, he has published 6 full length books of poetry, his most recent book DOLOR MIDNIGHT was published in 2018 and deals with the subject of gambling. His next book, NOCTOGRAMS is due to be published in the fall of 2020 and deals with the subject of night and transformation.

Prologue begins THE ANGEL NOTEBOOK (Seraphim Editions, 2007)